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Las Vegas home sales drop in May amid pandemic, but prices higher

Las Vegas house sales plunged last month from year-ago levels amid the pandemic-sparked economic shutdown.

But there were some bright spots as prices ticked higher and the tally of newly signed sales contracts climbed, a new report says.

Buyers scooped up 1,703 single-family homes in May, down 13.6 percent from April and 48.1 percent from May 2019, according to trade association Las Vegas Realtors, or LVR.

The median price of last month’s sales was $315,000, up 1.6 percent from April and 5 percent year over year.

Meanwhile, the tally of new listings jumped month to month but was still far below year-ago levels.

Owners put 3,231 houses on the market in May, up 28.4 percent from April but down 29.7 percent from May of last year, LVR reported.

The association reports data from its listing service, which largely comprises previously owned homes. Single-family houses dominate Las Vegas’ sales market.

Southern Nevada’s housing market had started 2020 with a burst of sales before the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the economy — including the Strip, Las Vegas’ financial lifeblood — virtually overnight in March. Home sales have dropped sharply amid the valley’s skyrocketing job losses, but the market hasn’t completely cratered.

Home values are “remaining steady,” and house hunters have been signing sales contracts at “a steady and significant increase since mid-April,” LVR President Tom Blanchard, a broker with Renters Warehouse, said in a statement.

“These are undoubtedly challenging times,” he said. “But I’m optimistic we can get through this faster and in better shape than some people have been predicting.”

The pandemic, which sparked sweeping business closures and stay-at-home orders around the country, devastated the U.S. travel industry and Southern Nevada’s tourism-dependent economy.

Las Vegas’ unemployment rate in April, a jaw-dropping 33.5 percent, was by far the highest among major American cities that month, federal officials recently reported.

Southern Nevada businesses have been reopening in recent weeks, including casinos, which were allowed to open their doors again Thursday.

Gov. Steve Sisolak had ordered casinos and other Nevada businesses closed in March to help contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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